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Gentleman's Military Interest Club

Laura2

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  1. Carl Felix Solmitz was one of approximately 2500 internees sent by England to Australia on the Dunera & was interned in Hay, NSW from Sep 40 until May 41 when he & his fellow internees were moved to Tatura, Victoria. Most were of Jewish descent and of German or Austrian origin but there were also 200 Italians as well as some captured German merchant seamen. There were more than 250 WW1 veterans among the German/Austrian internees. Most had been in the various armies but a few were in the Navy of Air Force. Of these approximately 50 joined the non-combatant labour units at varying times starting Mar 42. Most of the Dunera internees served in the 8 Employment Company & were required to load/unload trains & sometimes worked in dock areas. Transfers to combat units were not permitted nor was service overseas although a few did, probably by accident, after the war was over. If discharged from the labour units, for health or other reasons, they were able to seek employment in Australia or opt to leave. About a half of the Dunera internees returned to England during the war & some served in the UK Pioneer Corps. There were around 15 WW1 veterans who opted to do. Later on those in the UK Pioneers could transfer to combat units but this was probably limited to some of the younger ones (youngest ones in the Dunera were born in 1924 & the oldest in 1874). Some went to Palestine & at least one then served with the British forces. A few WW1 veterans died en-route to England when their ship was torpedoed. Joining the UK Pioneers was one of the easiest ways to be released from internment & return to England. Lack of shipping meant there were delays. The options for temporary release in Australia were essentially limited to essential war work. For many joining the labour unit in Australia was their only option for release.
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